Resetting priorities, gathering resources
By Dr. Michael Jarzombek, 157th Air Refueling Wing Director of Psychological Health
/ Published November 02, 2013
PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H. -- What a busy year this has been for Airmen at Pease. In my articles this year I have talked a lot about taking care of ourselves in order to fortify personal resilience, and everyone's tireless efforts have clearly demonstrated this resilience. The pace of the work in 2013 has been intense, and the results of these efforts have been no less than amazing in my opinion. It seems that this view is shared by several high profile visitors who have journeyed to the base in recent months. The KC-46 aircraft award seems a just prize for such amazing effort!
In the September edition of the Refueler I discussed dealing with the storms of life that create serious hardship and upheaval in our lives such as divorce, job loss or a health set back. I reminded everyone that attending to our foundation of healthy living behaviors not only helps us to manage the lesser storms of life, but is also vital to surviving the catastrophic ones. Certainly resilience has contributed to the sustained level of performance everyone has been putting forth throughout this busy year in spite of sequestration and government shut-down.
When dealing with the aftermath of catastrophic storms I described denial, anger, bargaining, depression and most importantly, acceptance as common and understandable reactions to tragedy. We often feel exposed, vulnerable and lack a sense of direction in the storm's wake. It is upon reaching a level of acceptance that true healing begins. As you may recall I described acceptance as: "the understanding that what is to be will be; that we can move through these most difficult moments and survive them; that these difficulties might challenge the very rules or values that we live by, but that we can adjust and we will be happy once again." Accepting what has happened is the first step in rebuilding our lives after tragedy. Next steps should include resetting priorities and gathering resources.
Sometimes priorities change after significant hardship has occurred. Finding ways to reduce spending will become a high priority following job loss for example. Discussing changes with children will become a high priority when encountering marriage problems or debilitating health problems. As with all storms, keep your focus on the truly important matters to address initially, and then deal with the lesser ones as you are able to. Surviving hardship is about taking care of yourself and your loved ones first. All else is secondary.
If you have not done so already, this is definitely the time to reach out to family, friends and appropriate professional services. Lean on those people who have been anchors in your life. They will help stabilize you when the storms hit. Seek solace and support from family and friends. Support from medical or psychological services should be on your agenda at this time, as well as clergy and family support services per your specific needs.
Continue to laugh, pray, hope and dream; stay true to yourself when the chips are down. Often there is no rhyme or reason to tragedy, but your ability to accept what has happened, to move through today's tragedy with family and other supports at your side, without losing hope, will carry you to brighter tomorrows. As always, I remain available to support you during life's storms, big or small.